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Summary: Why do we judge and condemn the conduct of others and go so easy on ourselves? What does God have to say to us about this peculiar tendency?

Sermon for CATM - May 7, 2006 - Right Back At Cha

"Don’t condemn others, and God won’t condemn you. 2God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them. You can see the speck in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the log in your own eye. How can you say, "My friend, let me take the speck out of your eye," when you don’t see the log in your own eye? You’re othing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. Then you can see how to take the speck out of your friend’s eye". Matthew 7:1-5

I heard a story about a five-year-old boy named Andrew. While visiting a neighbor with his parents, Andrew pulled out his kindergarten class picture and immediately began describing each classmate. “This is

Robert; he hits everyone. This is Stephen. He never listens to the teacher. This is Mark. He chases us and is very noisy." Pointing to his own picture,

Andrew commented, "And this is me. I’m just sitting here minding my own business."

Funny thing about humans, about the way we look at other people. I don’t know if it’s based in our history or our genetics as a species or something else. We’re rather quick to sum other people up. We see others doing wrong while we see ourselves as virtuous.

With precious little real information, and with an absurd confidence in our ‘character radar’ we make judgements about others. Judgments which are often

made too early to be reliable. They’re called, or course, pre-judgments or prejudices.

Sometimes it’s based on the way a person looks. I was speaking with a dear brother and sister earlier this week about racism, how it is all around us in the world, and all too often present in the church.

We kind of expect sin to be rampant in the world around us, but when Christians make judgments on people due to their race...when it matters to us what colour or ethnic background someone has, when a

couple of mixed race face judgment or just "the look’ they get from others that silently voices disapproval... this is particularly saddening, particularly galling, particularly terrible because racism dishonours God by rejecting what He has

made.

Steve Martin said, "Never judge a man unless you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Then you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes."

Survey: How many in here this afternoonhave been judged based on rumors and lies?

How many in here this afternoon have been judged because of your past? How many in here this afternoon have been criticized for doing something different or

even being different?

Have you ever felt the sting of beingunfairly judged by another person when they did not even know you?

Everyone of us has a story...and part of our story includes being judged or condemned unfairly by others...something we really have very little control over.

The challenge with being on the receiving end of judgment or condemnation is to not let people’s unfair judgments shut us down.

The pathway to this is forgiveness...forgiving those who make such condemnations...because that is the only

way to be free of the anger and negative self-image that such condemnation can create.

In our passage today, though, Jesus doesn’t really address this part of the equation. He’s interested in you and me and he wants us to realize how unhealthy

it is to live a critical lifestyle, how God distains such an attitude to life.

He talks in some very strong terms aboutjudging or condemning others. But He doesn’t leave us there alone. He gives the way out of having a critical, judgmental heart.

First of all, Jesus clearly commands us notto judge. I want to mention just in passing that this passage is one of the most abused passages in all of scripture.

When we see someone making a practice of self-destructive behaviour and we gently bring that to their attention, that is not what Jesus is talking about here.

When we see someone who has had too much to drink getting their car keys and getting ready to take off for a drive, and we call them on it, we’re not judging

them.

They may say to us, “Judge me not!”, but, of course, they’re using scripture to avoid reality.

The NIV says, “Do not judge”. The Contemporary English Version which we use as often as we can for its inclusive language of ease of understanding, says:

“Do not condemn”. The amplified version, which does its best to capture all the shades of meaning of a text, says: “DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn

others”.

So if really want to apply this passageaccurately in your life, you don’t stop making intelligent choices using a reasonable amount of discernment. You simply examine yourself to see if in your attitude you are condemning others.

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